Today, as I was driving to the school, a van pulled out in front of me, forcing me to slam on my brakes and horn simultaneously.
And I was pissed.
Most of the time, I take it in stride when the drivers around here do these boneheaded things. But every so often, when I'm tired or stressed or aware that I'm alone in the car, I just get so annoyed. And today was one of those days.
So instead of just moving along and forgetting about it, I honked again. The driver started up, but when I honked, he stopped and began rolling down his window.
This just fueled my rage. Seriously? Was he going to yell at me for honking? Not a chance. I turned the wheel hard and screeched around him in the bike lane while he was still rolling his window down. And I did something I never, EVER do.
I flipped him off.
But here's the thing. Just as I was zooming around him and lifting my finger in the air, I saw what he was really doing. He was extending his hand out the window and waving in apology, something you seldom see around here.
Just like that, my anger deflated and I saw the self-important ass that I'd just made of myself. And I've been feeling like a fool ever since.
You see, I'm driving around in a car with plates that identify me not just as a diplomat, but as a U.S. diplomat. Usually, I'm so aware that everything I do, good or bad, reflects on the U.S. as a whole. I'm not just any old person when I'm out there in the world: I'm an American, and MY behavior impacts THEIR views of US.
So I was doubly ashamed to be caught overreacting so.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I get tired of feeling as though I'm being watched all of the time. By the Chinese, by the neighbors, by my own kids. Everything I do seems to matter, if only on a very small stage.
And when I let down my guard, like today, it often ends badly.
Still and all - I think it was about the 5th time I'd been cut off today. The first few times, I managed to mutter under my breath and carry on.
Tomorrow - back to muttering for me.